MSE Symposium Unspools Tuesday at Shriver Hall : At 100, Why Do Movies Matter? | JHU Gazette

Reposted MSE Symposium Unspools Tuesday at Shriver Hall : At 100, Why Do Movies Matter? by Mike Giuliano (Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 9, 1995)


MSE Symposium Unspools Tuesday at Shriver Hall

At 100, Why Do Movies Matter?

Mike Giuliano
-------------------------
Special to The Gazette

     Not that turf-conscious professors need worry about one of the main campus buildings being converted into a nine-screen multiplex theater, but the movies have arrived on the Homewood campus in a big way.

     Most immediately, the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, "Framing Society: A Century of Cinema," opens this week to examine the roles of the motion pictures in American society. Its undergraduate co-chairmen, Matt Gross and Chris Aldrich, are no strangers to the subject of film. Each is involved in film classes, student film organizations, film production, screenings and a just-launched magazine. All of which, considered together with the symposium, they hope will provide a new frame of reference at Hopkins for the only art form that proceeds at 24 frames per second. 

     Lest anyone still harbor the prejudice that movies should be accompanied by popcorn and not term papers, young filmmaker Gross is quick to defend the academic worth of their symposium offering.  

     "Chris and I always felt it was an appropriate topic for the symposium," he says. "It wasn't so much deciding whether to do it as how to do it. We want to explore how cinema fits into our culture. Can a particular movie or stream of movies change things in society?"

     By way of example, he dips into film and political history for the famous anecdote about President Woodrow Wilson's proclamation that D.W. Griffith's controversial 1915 film Birth of a Nation was "like history written by lightning."

     Gross says, "It's a historical fact that Wilson was one of the first people to give legitimacy to film. Since he went to Hopkins, he's like this guy sitting on top of the ivory tower saying this is a way of reporting history. That legitimizes film as a historical pursuit. And the 100th anniversary of cinema is an opportunity to look back on film in a cultural and intellectual way."

     Gross adds that a visit to Paris reinforced his sense that the French, whose visionary Lumière brothers began showing movies commercially in 1895, have a much keener sense of film history than do Americans.

     "It's not just that Americans don't have a grasp of film history. There's not a good grasp of history among the American people," he says.

     There's yet another reason why Gross believes movies haven't always received the respect they deserve in this country.

     "Also, possibly, the business of film has gotten in the way somewhat," he says. "Because it is big business--it's a product--some people may not feel it's worth looking at" in an academic forum, he says.

     Gross looks on this year's symposium as a springboard for a broader discussion, both on campus and in the larger community, of the role played by movies.  

     "The symposium is a way to get everybody who is interested together in one place to talk about movies. Beyond the symposium, we're trying to create at Hopkins a kind of cinematic culture. And we need to expand so that the Baltimore public knows about what's at Hopkins," Gross says. "Being on campus for four years, everything feels so isolated. Many students know a lot about film but not always about what's going on off campus, and people off campus in Baltimore know about film but not about what we have here. 

     "We'd like to integrate Hopkins into the Baltimore community at large. We want to be a regular part of the movie scene. So we want the symposium to act as a catalyst for everything else," he says.

     One impact the symposium will have on and off campus will result from the outfitting of Shriver Hall with a new 38-foot screen.

     "The old screen had been subjected to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and other things," says Mary Ellen Porter, special assistant to dean of students Larry Benedict. The film is noted as much for its campy content as for its cult following, who make viewing the film an interactive experience replete with vegetables and other substances tossed at the screen. 

     Also added were 35mm film projectors, and there are plans to add "surround sound" equipment next year. These technical enhancements will make the 1,174-seat hall the largest and potentially one of the best movie theaters in the Baltimore area.

     Existing film series such as the long-running Reel World and Weekend Wonderflix will look better on screen. Porter says the booking of preview screenings and other special programs "will give us a chance to reach out to the greater community in a way we don't now."

     Better campus screening facilities can enhance both a weekend date for the latest Die Hard movie and a student taking notes on the mise-en-scène in a Renoir film.

     "In terms of facilities, film is a machine art and machines are a part of it," notes Richard Macksey, a longtime Hopkins professor of humanities and film and an active member of Baltimore's cinema culture. He cites the upgrading of 110 Gilman several years ago as an instance of how film courses prosper when projection moves closer to state of the art.

     Indeed, the cinematic zeitgeist on campus seems healthy. Last summer saw the birth of yet another film series, The Snark, which offers classics and avant-garde fare. Also recently arrived on the screen scene is the Animation Club.    

     The recently established Johns Hopkins Film Society and its magazine, Frame of Reference, promote film culture at Hopkins, including criticism, theory, history and production. Mardi Gras Baltimore, co-directed by Gross and 1995 graduate Gil Jawetz, will premiere at the symposium at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15. 

     Gross hopes the diversity of symposium speakers will provide the insights and inspiration to support and nourish the
confluence of Hopkins' film-related activities.   

     For example, James G. Robinson, founder and CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, will talk about the business of making movies. Veteran screenwriter Millard Kaufman and young director Rose Troche will each talk about their place within that industry. Critic Molly Haskell will talk about the role played by women in filmmaking and criticism. And Thomas Cripps, among the world's leading scholars of black film history, will add his reflections on the representation of blacks in the movies and the social effects of those images.

     It's a lineup that has won over at least one initial skeptic.

     "Frankly, I was a little skeptical of it at first because a lot of money goes into [the symposium], and I didn't want to see speakers who'd stand up there schmoozing and then vanish into the night," says English professor Jerome Christensen, who directs the Film and Media Studies program. 

     Established in 1991, Film and Media Studies is a cooperative program of the departments of English, French, German, Hispanic and Italian Studies, Writing Seminars, Humanities and Philosophy. Presently, students may minor in this area, but Christensen expects that the eventual addition of a film production course will enable students to major in Film and Media Studies. Although he says Hopkins "will never be a film school" on the scale of New York University or the University of Southern California, it is taking its place with other academic pursuits at Homewood.

     "I'm glad [Gross and Aldrich] have used [the symposium] in a way that will be educational," Christensen says. "I'm hoping the symposium will demonstrate the range of opportunities both in terms of careers and the intellectual challenges that contemporary film represents. It also gives us a push to do other things."

     Christensen suggests the symposium visit of Indian filmmaker Girish Karnad will likely figure into classroom discussions in a course on Indian film being offered in the spring. Undergraduate internships with Robinson also are under discussion.

     "My aim is to have some institutional pay-off to these things," he says.

     "Film is especially adaptable to an interdisciplinary approach and it's used for so many pedagogical purposes now," says Macksey of the Hopkins approach to teaching film. Having mentored such future Hollywood talents as Walter Murch and Caleb Deschanel during their student days in the 1960s, Macksey has been a constant advocate for film studies on campus.

     And what would the students like to see on the classroom screen scene in the semesters ahead?

     "I'd like to consider how the film study is done at New York University, Columbia, USC and elsewhere and then find a different and original way to go at it at Hopkins," Gross says. "Many of those film schools examine how movies are made and not as much attention is paid to movies as literature. That's something Hopkins can do."

Eisenhower Symposium Brings Movie Industry Insiders to Hopkins

Reposted Eisenhower Symposium Brings Movie Industry Insiders to Hopkins by Leslie Rice (Headlines at Hopkins)

Imagine life without movies.

The moving picture turns 100 this year and some Johns Hopkins University undergraduates who can’t picture life without a big screen have marked film’s centennial by bringing to the Homewood campus an impressive group of movie industry insiders to discuss the powerful medium of film.

The 1995 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, “Framing Society: A Century of Cinema” will be held in Shriver Hall at 8 p.m. on different nights from Oct. 10 through Nov. 16, and is entirely free and open to the public.

James Robinson, founder and CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, will discuss the movie-making business in the series kick-off event Oct. 10. Since 1988 Robinson has produced at least 26 films, including Young Guns I and II, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Enemies: a Love Story, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and True Romance. Last year Robinson, a Baltimore resident who commutes every week to the West Coast, was named the most prolific producer of the year by Hollywood Reporter Magazine.

Also during the series, an independent film maker will discuss the recent boom in independent, low-budget films while another director will talk
about the importance of her identity as a Latina lesbian and her struggle not to be pegged as a “queer” director. Other speakers will discuss the portrayal of African-Americans and women in movies, and one of India’s leading directors will discuss the international movie scene.

Symposium organizers say another highlight will be a lecture given by veteran screenwriter Millard Kaufman. Kaufman, 78, has weathered the ups and downs of the film industry for decades and his colorful, tell-it-like-it-is style is as entertaining as it is enlightening. Besides writing memorable Lee Marvin and Spencer Tracy westerns like Bad Day at Black Rock and Take the High Ground, he is also known for risking his career by fronting the screenplay Gun Crazy for a blacklisted friend during the McCarthy era. Still, Kaufman is probably most famous for creating the quirky and comical cartoon character Mr. Magoo.

During the symposium, Hopkins will also hold the grand opening of the Shriver Hall Theater in Shriver Hall Auditorium, which will be outfitted with state-of-the-art screening capabilities, making it the largest movie theater in the Baltimore-Washington area. In the future, the new theater will host movie premieres and sneak previews as well as off-beat and foreign films.

The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium was established in 1967 by Hopkins’ undergraduate student council to honor the university’s eighth president.
Every year since then, a team of two to three students chosen by the student council has arranged and managed all aspects of the series. Usually about six prominent figures are booked to address a current national issue.

Covering topics like the nuclear arms race, human sexuality, freedom of the press and foreign policy and race, the symposium has been drawn speakers like Aaron Copland, Kurt Vonnegut, Carl Bernstein, former senators George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy, Pat Robinson and Isaac Asimov.

This year’s symposium organizers are Hopkins seniors Chris Aldrich and Matt Gross. Gross and fellow Hopkins senior Gil Jawetz have also produced and directed a short film, Mardi Gras, Baltimore, which will premiere during the symposium.

The 1995 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium.

Oct. 10, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“The Film Industry.” James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek Productions; producer of True Romance, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Major League 2.

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m.
Screening.
Go Fish, written and directed by Rose Troche.

Thursday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“Sexuality and Film.” Rose Troche writer/director of Go Fish.


Wednesday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m., Shriver Hall.
Screening.
U.S. premiere of Ondanondu Kaladalli, directed by Girish Karnad.

Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“World Cinema.” Girish Karnad, leading film director of India and past director of the Film and Television Institute of India.

Thursday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“Women In Film and Criticism.” Molly Haskell, New York film critic and author of From Reverence to Rape.

Thursday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“Censorship of Film.” Millard Kaufman, screenwriter, Bad Day at Black Rock, Take the High Ground, Raintree Country; board member of the Writers Guild of America; creator of Mr. Magoo.

Friday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.
Screening.
Bad Day at Black Rock, written by Millard Kaufman. The film will be introduced by Kaufman and followed by a question and answer session.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“Race and Film.” Thomas Cripps, author and history professor at Morgan State University.

Friday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.
Premiere and screening.
World premiere of Mardi Gras, Baltimore, written, produced and directed by JHU students Gil Jawetz and Matt Gross. Screening of Laws of Gravity, produced by Larry Meistrich.

Thursday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.
Lecture.
“Independent films.” Larry Meistrich, producer of Laws of Gravity and New Jersey Drive; CEO of the Shooting Gallery.

(photos of speakers available upon request)

MSE Symposium Considers the Cinema at 100 | Johns Hopkins Gazette

Reposted MSE Symposium Considers the Cinema at 100 by Leslie Rice (Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 18, 1995)


MSE Symposium Considers the Cinema at 100

Leslie Rice
-----------------------------------
Homewood News and Information


     It was just curiosity that drew the crowds of people to see Thomas Edison's latest invention one century ago. How could they have known then the colossal impact those odd, grainy, flickering moving pictures would forever have on American culture?

     Two Hopkins undergraduates have marked the 100th anniversary of the moving picture by bringing to the Homewood campus an impressive group of film industry personalities to talk about the movies.

     The 1995 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, entitled "Framing Society: A Century of Cinema," will examine the power of the medium of film. Admission to the symposium, in Shriver Hall at 8 p.m. on various nights from Oct. 10 through Nov. 16, is free and open to the public.

     During the lecture series, chaired by Hopkins seniors Matt Gross and Chris Aldrich, an independent film maker will discuss the recent boom in independent, low-budget films while another director will talk about the importance of her identity as a Latina lesbian and her fight not to be pegged as a "queer" director. Other speakers will discuss the portrayal of African Americans and women in movies, and India's leading film director will discuss the international movie scene.

     "We chose speakers who could talk about film in a historical context," Gross said. "We didn't want someone to just come in and say, 'Here's my film: look at it'."

     Kicking off the series will be James Robinson, founder and CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, who will talk about how the film industry has become big business. Since 1988 Robinson has produced a couple dozen films, including Young Guns I and II, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Enemies: A Love Story, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and True Romance. Last year Robinson, a Baltimore resident who commutes every week to the West Coast, was named the most prolific producer of the year by Hollywood Reporter Magazine.

     Aldrich says he's particularly excited to hear screenwriter Millard Kaufman, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2. Kaufman, 78, has weathered the ups and downs of the film industry for decades. Besides writing memorable Lee Marvin and Spencer Tracy westerns like Bad Day at Black Rock and Take the High Ground, he is known for risking his career by fronting the screenplay Gun Crazy for a blacklisted friend during the McCarthy era. Still, Kaufman may be most famous for creating the quirky and comical cartoon character Mr. Magoo.

     "Kaufman is planning to talk about censorship in film, but even if he just talks about his career it will be very entertaining," Aldrich said. "He's very colorful and tells really funny stories about his experiences with some of the most powerful people in the industry." 

     During the symposium, Hopkins will also hold the grand opening of the Shriver Hall Theater within Shriver Hall Auditorium, which will, by then, be outfitted with state-of-the-art 35mm projection and sound equipment, making it the largest movie theater in the Baltimore-Washington area.

     In the future, the new theater, made possible through university grants submitted by Aldrich and Gross, will host movie premieres and sneak previews as well as off-beat and foreign films.

     The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium was established in 1967 by Hopkins' undergraduate student council as a means of honoring the university's eighth president. Every year since then, a team of two to three students chosen by the student council, after a very competitive proposal process, has arranged and managed all aspects of the series from beginning to end--from selecting the topic, to raising money (this year roughly $35,000), to booking the personalities to reserving rooms. Usually about six prominent figures are booked to address a current national issue.

     Covering topics like the nuclear arms race, human sexuality, freedom of the press, and foreign policy and race, the symposium has drawn top-flight speakers like Aaron Copeland, Kurt Vonnegut, Carl Bernstein, former senators George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy, Pat Robinson and Isaac Asimov.

     Aldrich and Gross decided they wanted to direct the 1995 symposium after attending many of the lectures from last year's symposium on children's issues.

    "Chris just turned to me and said, 'Let's do next year's symposium,' " Gross recalled. "Without even thinking, I said, 'On movies, right?' He said 'yeah,' and that was it. I wish I could say it was a decision we pondered long and hard on, but it wasn't." 

     Since their proposal was chosen by the student council last December, the two have felt the weight of all the successful symposia of the past, which have captured national and local attention.

      "It's really been a constant pressure, and over the summer it was a full-time job for both Chris and me," said Gross, who happens to be a fledgling director. "All things considered though, I feel really lucky to have been able to do this. Just the experience of having to deal with every single detail, getting to know some of these people, and the kinds of things I have learned has been incredibly rewarding." 

*****************************************************************
THE MSE SYMPOSIUM - 1995 SCHEDULE
     "Framing Society: A Century of Cinema," is a series of lectures by film producers, directors, critics and screenwriters. All lectures and film screenings are free and open to the public and will take place in the new Shriver Hall Theater on the Homewood campus. 

------------------------------
Tuesday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.
     "The Film Industry." James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek Productions; producer of True Romance, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Major League 2.


------------------------------
Wednesday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m. 
------------------------------
Screening.
     Go Fish, written and directed by Rose Troche.


------------------------------
Thursday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.  
     "Sexuality and Film." Rose Troche, writer/director of Go Fish. 


------------------------------
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Premiere and Screening.
     English premiere of Ondanondu Kaladalli, directed by Girish Karnad. 


------------------------------
Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.
     "World Cinema." Girish Karnad, leading film director of India and past director of the Film and Television Institute of India. 


------------------------------
Thursday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.
     "Women in Film and Criticism." Molly Haskell, New York film critic and author of From Reverence to Rape.


------------------------------
Thursday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. 
------------------------------
Lecture. 
     "Censorship of Film." Millard Kaufman, screenwriter, Bad Day at Black Rock, Take the High Ground, Raintree Country; board member of the Writers Guild of America; creator of Mr. Magoo.


------------------------------
Friday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Screening.
     Bad Day at Black Rock, written by Millard Kaufman. The film will be introduced by Kaufman and followed by a question and answer session.


------------------------------
Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.
     "Race and Film." Thomas Cripps, author and history professor at Morgan State University.


------------------------------
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Premiere and Screening.
     Premiere of Mardi Gras, Baltimore, written, produced and directed by JHU students Gil Jawetz and Matt Gross.         
     Screening of Laws of Gravity, produced by Larry Meistrich.


------------------------------
Thursday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.
------------------------------
Lecture.
     "Independent Films." Larry Meistrich, producer of Laws of Gravity and New Jersey Drive; CEO of the Shooting Gallery.
*****************************************************************

     Call the symposium office for further information at (410) 516-7683.

Symposium Investigating Film and Society | Johns Hopkins Gazette

Reposted Symposium Investigating Film and Society (Johns Hopkins Gazette)

Symposium Investigating Film and Society

     The Student Council has announced that the 29th annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium will look critically at the movies and their relationship to society. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the cinema's birth. 
 
     Christopher Aldrich, president of the Reel World film series, and Matthew Gross, director of the Snark film series, and symposium co-chairmen, are planning a series of lectures, panel discussions, movie screenings and special events that will provide a comprehensive understanding of cinema's role in the world.

     The Aldrich/Gross proposal was one of 18 submitted for consideration.

     As part of the symposium's planning, Dean of Homewood Student Affairs Larry Benedict has agreed to renovate and upgrade the Shriver Hall film projection facilities. Although details are not yet final, upgrades are expected to include a 40-foot-wide screen (bigger than the one at the historic Senator Theatre) and Dolby surround sound. These and other changes would make Shriver Hall one of the 20 best movie theaters in the country, Aldrich said. 

     The MSE Symposium is completely run by undergraduates. Proposals for a wide range of ideas are submitted in the fall to a Student Council committee. The chairs of the winning proposal then take responsibility for fund-raising--Aldrich expects their budget will  top $55,000--formalizing the program, selecting and inviting speakers, dealing with lawyers and agents, organizing the event and arranging publicity.

     The MSE Symposium is scheduled to begin the last week in September.

Jesse Jackson and my signed copy of Green Eggs and Ham

Tonight Jesse Jackson spoke at the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. I’d recently seen his appearance on Saturday Night Live, so I brought my copy of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss along with me.

After the lecture I had the chance to meet him and chat, but the best part was the look on his face when I presented him my copy of Green Eggs and Ham for an autograph. He kindly obliged with the observation that he knew that “this” was coming eventually, but said that I was the first one to ask for a signature on this particular book.

He got his second opportunity just moments later when my freshman year roommate Gary showed up with his own copy. Who knew that we thought so much alike?

Saturday Night Live

Transcript of the Saturday Night Live Episode segment

Syndicated copies to: